Gov’t deploying police to monitor situation
The government has warned the leadership of the Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL) to disengage its planned protest to be held today, April 10. The GOL statement, released late Saturday, April 8, under the signature of Minister of Information Lenn Eugene Nagbe, ordered officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) to monitor today’s situation to ensure that such action is aborted.
A similar protest took place in January shutting down business activities in Monrovia and its environs, following series of failed meetings with stakeholders on the tattered Liberian economy and with the continued increment of the exchange rate between the United States’ dollars over the Liberian dollar.
Despite several appeals for PATEL to call off its protest today, a member of its executives, who spoke with the Daily Observer via telephone last night, said the organization has not been involved in any discussion that requires its members to cancel the protest.
The executive member who would not disclose his name said “We will go ahead and state our protest. We are not forcing any business to remain closed, but we feel that the government need to speak to us so that we can document what it wants to do in that respect.”
With reference with the appeal by the Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC) to cancel its protest, while the government is working to honoring its demands, the executive member said PATEL is not aware of the role the LCC is playing.
The LCC in a statement issued April 6, noted that “our economy and peaceful environment for the conduct of business is fragile, as a result of global economic downturns and inadequate domestic infrastructure and capacity.”
The LCC agrees “that some of the concerns raised by PATEL needs attention,” but advised the PATEL “to take advantage of the mechanisms and systems available for peaceful advocacy and dialogue with the Government, such that in the process we do not lose what we have, no matter how small.”
“The LCC should call us and speak to us so that we can share our concerns to them,” he said. He insisted that the protest will go on as planned.
The LCC also recalled that Liberia’s “recent history has shown that disagreements between Government’s Agencies and the Business Community are not resolved by resort to strike, and other similar activities intended to force the Government’s Authority to take action desired by the business sector. In fact the results and conditions turn out to be far more severe and damaging.”
PATEL issued a statement last week citing the depreciation of the Liberian dollar against the United States dollar; high tariffs and incidental tariffs that are placed on goods imported by Liberian businesses, and constant police harassment of traders, including street sellers.
The statement appealed to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to quickly respond to their concerns before today, to avoid any conflict that may arise.
The statement also called on members of the House of Representatives and Senate to immediately look into “the imposition of high tariffs on goods imported to Liberia, constant increase of the United States dollar rate on the market and police harassment of petty traders.”
PATEL called for the classification of Liberian businesses as a special group in relation to the four categories of tariffs, to enable them to pay a flat rate tax of 0% – 5% on all goods imported into Liberia.
PATEL also called for a single customs examination before any payment is made, instead of multiple examinations of goods with separate and distinct tax payments.
In a statement last week, House members called on PATEL to call off its strike because 90 per cent of its request has been handled, and appealed for patience to complete their request.